Seasonal Calendar and Project Design
A seasonal calendar is a great way to ensure a localised and participatory approach to your design process when planning a project.
It can help you better map and understand your space and the areas that it surrounds too. You'll learn about the most important events in their year, including when your project will take place. This is crucial if you're working in a rural area since you will need to understand a lot about the environment and natural resources before planning your work. This gives you a sense of how seasons affect your community.
A seasonal calendar can also help you split the projects into chunks of measurable time, giving you points to gather data and evaluate your successes.
It also will point to the availability of resources. Plan your most important moments around when you're likely to get grant disbursements, for example. You'll be grateful for this planning in the leaner moments of the year. If you know you need to buy expensive products, or send out sub-grants by a certain point, ensure that you receive the funds in the right currency and on time to cover those expenses. Work with your grants, finance officer, and donor to do this.
If you begin the project planning with a solid understanding of your community's calendar and your own, you can use this to help you better plan your risk mitigation strategy. You have foreknowledge of potential bottlenecks, such as a rainy season likely affecting the usability of roads connecting you to your communities.
This is a real example of when I used a seasonal calendar to help a client better plan their work. We realised they had planned a monitoring visit during the rainy season, which would not have made any sense. We decided instead to conduct a few meetings and a trip a month before. We also reviewed the financial calendar and ensured that by the time of the visit, a month in advance, the community had received more than enough of their sub-grant to see them through any potential damages that the rainy reason would bring them.
Think about how you can use a seasonal calendar in your work. If you're partway through a project, you can still use this time to sketch out your learnings - it's always a good time to use this tool. It will help your next project in the area and can also contribute to your organisational learning. Think about what you wish you had known before starting your project and what you would recommend to another organisation starting work with your community.
[Image credit: Barefoot Guides]